Category: John McDouall Stuart - Fifth Expedition
Written by William Hardman
When Mr. Stuart reached Adelaide, in October, 1860, on his return from his last expedition, bringing with him the intelligence that he had penetrated to the northward almost as far as the eighteenth degree of south latitude, and had only been forced to retreat by the hostility of the natives, the South Australian Parliament voted a sum of 2500 pounds for a larger, better-armed, and more perfectly organized party, of which he was to be the leader.
The ill-fated Victorian expedition, under Burke and Wills, had already started from Melbourne, on the previous 20th of August, amid all the excitement of a popular ovation, but a messenger was instantly despatched by the Victorian Government to overtake them, in order to give them what information the South Australian Government allowed to be known.
On the 29th of November Mr. Stuart was ready to start once more, and left Moolooloo with seven men and thirty horses, arriving at Mr. Glen's station on the 1st of December, and at Goolong Springs on the 4th. He was delayed at the latter place for several days, in consequence of the horses, and more especially the town horses, being unmanageable and unequal to their work.
The party reached Welcome Springs on the 8th, and Finniss Springs on the 11th.
The water at Finniss Springs seemed to have an injurious influence on the town horses, but those that had been with Mr. Stuart on his previous journeys were not so much affected. The following evening they arrived at Chambers Creek, where they remained until the end of the month.
During their stay at Chambers Creek they were occupied in killing and drying bullocks, mending saddles, weighing rations, shoeing horses, and generally preparing to start. Several of the horses, which had been knocked up and left behind on the way, had to be brought up; others became quite blind, one was lost, and one died.
On the 31st of December four fresh horses arrived, which had been kindly sent up by Mr. Finke the moment he heard of the difficulty in which Mr. Stuart was placed. The party was also further increased, both by horses and men, so that when it left Chambers Creek, on the 1st of January, 1861, it numbered twelve men and forty-nine horses.